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Beyond the pentatonic box

Thursday 29th September 2011 Knowledge Base

Most people play their first solos using the minor pentatonic scale, usually with a simple 'box' shape. Here's the most common one, showing the A minor pentatonic at the 5th fret...

 

The great thing about box shapes is that you can move them to different positions, to suit the song you're playing. For a solo in D minor, you'd move to the 10th fret, or for G minor, you'd move to the 3rd fret. Lots of classic solos have used simple shapes like this. But why restrict yourself? By learning a scale over a wider area of the fretboard, you can create a lot more licks! Here are three easy ways to expand your pentatonic playing, all using examples from our Jambusters 1 series... The easiest thing to do is to drop down two frets on the low E and A strings. This gives you a little four-note mini pattern, and you can slide in and out of this pattern on the A string. That's exactly what happens on this excerpt from 'Spirited Blues'. We're in E minor, so the basic box shape is at the 12th fret.

 

We can also stretch the box shape upwards, and there's a great little triangular shape on the high E, B and G strings. A very common way of moving in and out of this mini shape is to slide up and down on the G string, as you'll see in this example from 'Reggae Blues'. This is in C# minor, and the basic box is at the 9th fret. You can also bend that top note (14th fret) to go even higher.

Let's try something a little bit more advanced. So far, we've just been adding notes to the basic box shape to stretch it, but there are whole other box shapes all over the fretboard. The one shown above has its root note on the E string... for instance, if you want to play B minor pentatonic, you find the B note on the low E string (it's at the 7th fret) and play the box shape in that position. This shape has its root note on the A string, so the position for B minor pentatonic is at the 2nd fret...

 

So you now have two whole box shapes you can use! Making use of these two shapes means that you need to learn the notes on the A and E strings, but that's worth the effort... the same system is used for locating barre chords. Here's the new shape in action, in an excerpt from 'Bullet Blues'...

Beyond the pentatonic box

Thursday 29th September 2011 Knowledge Base

Most people play their first solos using the minor pentatonic scale, usually with a simple 'box' shape. Here's the most common one, showing the A minor pentatonic at the 5th fret...

 

The great thing about box shapes is that you can move them to different positions, to suit the song you're playing. For a solo in D minor, you'd move to the 10th fret, or for G minor, you'd move to the 3rd fret. Lots of classic solos have used simple shapes like this. But why restrict yourself? By learning a scale over a wider area of the fretboard, you can create a lot more licks! Here are three easy ways to expand your pentatonic playing, all using examples from our Jambusters 1 series... The easiest thing to do is to drop down two frets on the low E and A strings. This gives you a little four-note mini pattern, and you can slide in and out of this pattern on the A string. That's exactly what happens on this excerpt from 'Spirited Blues'. We're in E minor, so the basic box shape is at the 12th fret.

 

We can also stretch the box shape upwards, and there's a great little triangular shape on the high E, B and G strings. A very common way of moving in and out of this mini shape is to slide up and down on the G string, as you'll see in this example from 'Reggae Blues'. This is in C# minor, and the basic box is at the 9th fret. You can also bend that top note (14th fret) to go even higher.

Let's try something a little bit more advanced. So far, we've just been adding notes to the basic box shape to stretch it, but there are whole other box shapes all over the fretboard. The one shown above has its root note on the E string... for instance, if you want to play B minor pentatonic, you find the B note on the low E string (it's at the 7th fret) and play the box shape in that position. This shape has its root note on the A string, so the position for B minor pentatonic is at the 2nd fret...

 

So you now have two whole box shapes you can use! Making use of these two shapes means that you need to learn the notes on the A and E strings, but that's worth the effort... the same system is used for locating barre chords. Here's the new shape in action, in an excerpt from 'Bullet Blues'...

Beyond the pentatonic box

Thursday 29th September 2011 Knowledge Base

Most people play their first solos using the minor pentatonic scale, usually with a simple 'box' shape. Here's the most common one, showing the A minor pentatonic at the 5th fret...

 

The great thing about box shapes is that you can move them to different positions, to suit the song you're playing. For a solo in D minor, you'd move to the 10th fret, or for G minor, you'd move to the 3rd fret. Lots of classic solos have used simple shapes like this. But why restrict yourself? By learning a scale over a wider area of the fretboard, you can create a lot more licks! Here are three easy ways to expand your pentatonic playing, all using examples from our Jambusters 1 series... The easiest thing to do is to drop down two frets on the low E and A strings. This gives you a little four-note mini pattern, and you can slide in and out of this pattern on the A string. That's exactly what happens on this excerpt from 'Spirited Blues'. We're in E minor, so the basic box shape is at the 12th fret.

 

We can also stretch the box shape upwards, and there's a great little triangular shape on the high E, B and G strings. A very common way of moving in and out of this mini shape is to slide up and down on the G string, as you'll see in this example from 'Reggae Blues'. This is in C# minor, and the basic box is at the 9th fret. You can also bend that top note (14th fret) to go even higher.

Let's try something a little bit more advanced. So far, we've just been adding notes to the basic box shape to stretch it, but there are whole other box shapes all over the fretboard. The one shown above has its root note on the E string... for instance, if you want to play B minor pentatonic, you find the B note on the low E string (it's at the 7th fret) and play the box shape in that position. This shape has its root note on the A string, so the position for B minor pentatonic is at the 2nd fret...

 

So you now have two whole box shapes you can use! Making use of these two shapes means that you need to learn the notes on the A and E strings, but that's worth the effort... the same system is used for locating barre chords. Here's the new shape in action, in an excerpt from 'Bullet Blues'...

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